Southwest Regional Holy Day Celebrations
The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) Southwest Region observed the 100th birthday of FFWPU co-founders Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, affectionately known as True Parents, with a concurrent celebration of the 53rd True Heavenly Parent’s Day at the regional-level in Dallas, Texas on January 25.
The Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Family Church community welcomed Unificationists from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Houston, Texas, Blanco, Texas and Austin, Texas, and began with a pledge service lead by Rev. John and Mrs. Jackson, Southwest regional director. During the celebration, clergy members lined up to testify one after the other to wish True Parents a happy birthday!
Bishop Harald Edwards began by saying he has been supporting True Parents since the 1980s. He then said, “If Martin Luther King and True Father were still alive, I believe they would be working together to save this world!”
Apostle Lindsay Holliday spoke about the incredible scope of the work of True Parents. She explained that she had attended True Parents around the world as they sought to liberate humankind.
True Mother’s letter to True Father, “Father, I Love You,” was read by a second-generation Unificationist, followed by Rev. Jackson who shared his testimony about how he was lost and then saved by True Parents. He called them his saviors for saving him so many times. Rev. Jackson quoted his father who said, “Son, I have only heard negative things about Rev. Moon, but I know better than to believe everything that I read and see on TV. If I could, I would like to shake Rev. Moon’s hand because he has done for you in one year what I have been trying to do your whole life!”
Secretary General for the Southwest Region Izak Hernandez read from True Father’s autobiography, beginning with True Father’s encounter with Jesus, and then read “The Crown of Glory.”
National Co-Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) Dr. Luonne Rouse gave the keynote address. He said, “If loving you is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!” His remarks spoke of loving unconditionally as True Parents do, and he clearly declared True Parents as the Lord of the Second Advent.
After singing “Happy Birthday” and cutting the cake, the youth performed the “Mujogeon (Unconditionally)” dance with so much energy that everyone shouted out for victory!
Rev. Jackson had kept a secret from everyone the entire celebration, which was revealed after everyone was given a gift bag. Rev. Jackson had hidden special tickets in eight of the gift bags, and asked those who had one to step forward. Each person was given a personal item that belonged to True Parents! Everyone was so surprised and grateful.
The celebration concluded with a traditional Korean lunch, followed by a three-hour yut game with a prize of a $1500 purse! Everyone enjoyed the festivities.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The ever-growing community of the Las Vegas Family Church had the great blessing of holding their holy day celebrations at the beautiful International Peace Education Center (IPEC) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on January 25. The building itself is a shining example of True Father’s vision becoming a reality through True Mother’s blood, sweat and tears.
The youth made a great first impression on the guests as a young, classically trained second-generation Unificationist pianist played the grand piano in the lobby while other second-generation Unificationists greeted and ushered guests to the registration tables.
The Banquet Hall was adorned with stunning decorations, round dining tables and buffet tables containing delicious Korean food.
To begin the program, Mistress of Ceremonies, Lady Faye McDonnel, shared welcoming remarks, then introduced Bishop Ron Thomas, newly appointed ACLC co-chair, to offer the opening prayer. His spirit-filled prayer led seamlessly into the first performance by the Reconciliation Apostolic Ministry band.
Testimonies followed, the first given by Rev. Andrew Compton, director of education at IPEC, who shared about his experiences with True Father over the 40 years he had been a member and leader in the American movement. He spoke deeply about True Father’s amazing personal standard of waking up at 3:00 a.m. every day, doing Hoon Dok Hwe every morning at 5:00 a.m., day-long fishing trips on the ocean, followed by speeches until midnight.
Next to testify was Jonathan Jesper, a 31-year-old parent of two and a lifelong Unificationist. He spoke about growing up in the Unification movement and the ways in which his life was shaped deeply by the things he learned from True Parents. Speaking about his own early experiences in trying to explain his faith to others, he recalled a moment when he was playing in his living room with some friends, when one of them noticed a picture of True Parents on the wall and asked, “Is that your Grandfather?” Eight-year-old Mr. Jesper thought for a moment and decided that “Grandfather” was close enough to “True Father” and told him, “Yes.”
The final testimony was offered by Bishop Ron Thomas, who spoke about how he had never met True Father and had only recently met True Mother in June 2019 when she came for the Peace Starts With Me Unity Festival in June 2019, and came to realize from her a deeper and richer, more powerful life dedicated to God. He spoke about the hard work he and his fellow ACLC pastors had been doing since the Las Vegas rally and continuing until the Newark, New Jersey rally in December to help prepare for these events. He expressed his love and admiration for True Mother and his gratitude for her heart to love all of God’s children in the world. He testified to her as the “True Daughter of God, the Mother of Peace” and praised her work throughout the world.
Kwon Jin Moon, True Parents’ fifth son, attended the celebration with his wife Hwa Yun Chun Moon, and was invited onto the stage to read True Father’s poem “The Crown of Glory.” Before reciting the poem, Kwon Jin Moon asked the congregation, “We want to build God’s Kingdom to last a thousand years, right? What kind of foundation do we want to build His Kingdom on? Not shifting sands, not rock. The only foundation that can last 1000 years is love, true love.”
Plenty of entertainment filled the program, including a “Mujogeon (Unconditionally)” dance performance by the high-spirited youth, and the Haven Street Band (the Las Vegas Family Praise Team) singing True Father’s song “Blessing of Glory.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Albuquerque Family Church celebrated the holy days on Friday evening, January 24 with 40 guests, who enjoyed an evening featuring Korean cuisine and entertainment by former director of the New Mexico Mass Interfaith Choir Arthur Williams.
Heartfelt messages were given by Pastor Dennis Hubbard, who spoke about the attraction of being involved with the Peace Starts With Me initiative. He noted that “we can all come together under the umbrella of peace, while sometimes religions tend to keep us apart.” He said, “If we are truly dedicated to the establishment of a peaceful world, we need to do something, we need to make an effort.” The keynote address was given by ACLC New Mexico co-chair Rev. Jesse Dompreh, who remembered the time he was invited to True Father’s 50 State Tour by former New Mexico Senator Mark Boitano. Rev. Dompreh attended a conference on marriage and was captivated by the discussion on the importance of lineage and was grateful to True Parents for enabling him to bring his family back together again. He also recalled spending time with True Parents and the 172 ACLC clergy in Korea for two weeks. “True Parents were bringing clergy together from all over the world for the sake of peace,” Rev. Dompreh said.
The Denver Family Church in Colorado held an enormous festival in celebration of the 53rd True Heavenly Parent’s Day and True Parents’100th Birthday. People from all over Colorado worshipped together in Denver, which began on January 25 with a traditional pledge service. Denver Family Church Pastor Adonia Hentrich gave a message on the significance of celebrating these holy days and the congregation shared a nice breakfast together afterwards.
On Sunday, January 26, a sermon titled “Starting the Year with Faith” talked about the need to start the year recognizing that God is always with you, always working in your life, because, sometimes, you may feel unworthy or ashamed because you aren’t living the way you think you should, or you don’t meet your own expectations.
After lunch, the community played a game of “As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen Jeopardy,” which tested the knowledge of the contestants on True Father’s autobiography As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen. After Jeopardy, the group divided up into two, some played yut and others shared and listened to testimonies.
The testimonies that were shared were honest and brave, sharing about experiences in their lives, like dealing with cancer, overcoming struggles in one’s life of faith, difficult relationships with parents, children struggling to understand their faith, it was all very refreshing and a sense of togetherness was definitely in the air.
After an impressive talent show that included classical music performances, songs, dances, and group activities, the congregation sat down to share a delicious Korean dinner of Japchae and bulgogi.
Salt Lake City, UT
The Salt Lake City Family Church celebrated the two holy days with a festive service and potluck lunch. Salt Lake City Family Church Pastor Mike Stovall lead the pledge service and read a short biography of True Parents’ life course.
Next, Pastor Stovall shared a testimony, reminiscing about when True Father hand-picked him a suit. Others were invited to share testimonies. Korean Evangelical Association (KEA) leader SungJo Hwang shared about the time he shared lunch with True Parents and was asked to bless the meal. Yoshko McKain talked about her experiences at East Garden preparing meals for True Parents. JunHo Tae, a second-generation Unificationist college student at Utah State University, gave a moving account of his experience in coming to know those in Utah and from around the world because of True Parents and the Marriage Blessing.
Following the testimonies, the second-generation Unificationist string quartet presented two musical numbers, then everyone joined in a Kahoot! online quiz game that asked questions about True Parents, and finally everyone enjoyed a wonderful lunch and good fellowship.
Unificationist communities in Oklahoma and Texas started their local celebrations at home with the Family Pledge, and then shared the gifts from the offering table with the children and guests.
Afterwards, communities traveled to Dallas, Texas to join the regional-level celebrations.